In the spirit of being over 30, we had a last-minute change of heart re attending a Halloween rave in Hackney last weekend, and instead decided to go for a country adventure in the New Forest. A random choice perhaps, but it’s near enough to London to go for one night and I’ve heard great things form various people – plus the weather looked great. So the bikes were chucked in the back of the car, we grabbed all manner of sweets and snacks and off we went.
We arrived at the Beaulieu Hotel on Saturday lunchtime, it was about a 2 hour drive from Brixton, and getting there before check-in we decided to head off on the bikes for some country air before returning to check in later.
We were directed to nearby village Lyndhurst by the lovely receptionist , but being only 3 miles away and along a road, Ian promptly went about finding a longer, more complicated, wet, muddy, and as it turned out, impossible route to somewhere much further. This involved cycling through the woods, and included huge muddy swamps. Fine on foot and in wellies, but much harder to cycle through without toppling over. After much moaning from me (I only had one pair of jeans with me and didn’t want to have to go for dinner in my pants while they dried out on the radiator) and frustration at my moaning from him, I embraced it (to an extent) and focused on the gorgeous wild horses that were everywhere, the lovely scenery of the woods and fields, the hazy sunlight and bright autumnal tones everywhere. Lovely.
After 2/3 hours, some trespassing on private farmland, getting lost, becoming unacceptably hungry, saying hello to passing locals (novel), seeing pigs, cows and lots more horses and changing our route (due to some of the above) we arrived in the very cute and picturesque village of Brockenhurst and the lovely Forester’s Arms pub.
My horror at the removal of pork belly from the specials options dissipated when it turned out it was just the accompanying red cabbage that was gone, and I could still have the pork, just with the more boring veg. Ian picked the minty lamb shank with mash, which would’ve been my second choice.
Both were outstanding – the pork was tender and enormous, with thick, crunchy crackling and lovely rich gravy. The lamb fell off the bone (yawn, boring phrase) and the mash was creamy and smooth and even the boring veg was good, even if slightly overdone in that pub-food kinda way.
We then embarked on the treacherous cycle back to the hotel in the rapidly approaching darkness with only a dodgy 3G signal to help us.. 6 miles, a beautiful sunset and a big hill-related near heart attack later (must get fitter) we were back. 15 miles in all – not bad.
On Sunday we had a fry up at the hotel (well meaning but lacklustre service, average food) and headed off for a walk in the woods, until carvery time at another local pub. Then off to Ford Farm Stables for a ride through the forest.
The girls working at Ford Farm were all lovely, and Trudy was very helpful on the phone. The route was gorgeous – varied and interesting and our guide Ellen was friendly and competent. Highly recommended!
It’s so nice to get out of London every now and then, even for one night, and the New Forest is a very good place to do it. Will be back soon!